Baking with Kate

I brought a suitcase filled with flour, baking powder, and cake pans for our baking together experience. Ginger cream scones seemed like a great idea as the ginger here is excellent and of course the double cream. This recipe is from the Pie and Pastry Bible and it worked quite well for the first batch. Several days later, when I forgot to whip the cream, the scones turned into cookies--delicious but still flat as pancakes--no! make that crêpes! With US cream this does not happen as it is lower in butterfat. Oliver's special request was for brioche. The dough couldn't have been more perfect but I wish I could say the same thing for my shaping technique. The loaf was a bit mishapen but no one seemed to mind--especially these two girls! Lesson learned, for brioche loaves best for the final shaping to press down the dough into a smaller rectangle and then roll it forward only once and pinch the seam instead of the usual three forward rolls. (I did this on my return and it worked perfectly.) I baked this no knead bread in Normandy using the French flour recommended for hearth bread. It was flatter than any bread I've ever made. Oliver's Mom said she loved it better than any of the bakery French breads--isn't she sweet?! The flavor was good though. Once we got to Devon I lost no time in making another loaf of no knead bread using the UK bread flour. Viva la différence! This slice of the no knead bread reveals what great crumb structure. I discovered on my return home that using the same flour did not achieve the same results--in fact I needed to add extra flour as it was too wet. Kate unearthed some interesting research about fluoride (her water is not flouridated) and it's negative impact on gluten formation. So interesting! The day of my departure I whipped up a beer bread (from my book which luckily Kate had) using the food processor. The dough was done in under 5 minutes and Kate baked it after bringing me to the airport. She's made it several times since. This was a special gift for Oliver as I knew he'd love it and I wanted to thank him for all the adventures. I used Guinness stout for the liquid.

I made Kate my favorite new cake from the upcoming book--the golden lemon almond cake. Since she didn't have a fluted tube pan I used the pumpkin pan, dividing the batter in two. It worked out perfectly--we gave one as a gift just as suggested in my book! We also made the basic yellow cake using US cake flour vs Kate flour vs one Kate had made with clotted cream which was excellent. Her Kate Flour really does work. But in a blind taste test I could detect the slightly floral quality that chlorine bleaching gives to cake flour. Since rhubarb was in reason (I like this typo--of course I meant season) we made a compote and served it with one of the ginger scones (the cookie variety), clotted cream, and a slice of the génoise with lemon syrup I made to show Kate the technique for making this kind of cake. Kate promised to make me ginger snaps (recipe on her blog) but we ran out of time. However, while Oliver, his Dad (who came up for a visit to meet me), and T went to the cheese shop in Topsham Kate whipped up a batch as a surprise. I took several home with me. For lunch the last day Kate made the pasties she had promised. We ate them still warm while walking through the park. They were fantastic, hearty and comforting. The dough has to be just right--strong enough to hold in the filling but fine enough to be tender. The filling is not cooked first so it can be juicy if it isn't allowed to sit and reabsorb the juices until just warm or room temperature. The dough was not a bit soggy. Next visit we must try the Kate flour technique with all purpose flour as most of my cake recipes now use it.